How should we respond to those who say that the Reformation no longer matters?
SPROUL: One noted British theologian has made the comment in print that the issues of the sixteenth century aren’t the issues anymore today, that all of a sudden the division has been healed, that Rome doesn’t teach indulgences anymore, and that it doesn’t have a treasury merit anymore.
What are they thinking? What are they reading? Read the Catholic Catechism of the 1990s and see whether there’s any treasury of merit, indulgences, and the rest.
If anything, the issues are greater today, partly because of the impact of nineteenth-century liberal Protestantism. If anything has moved the gospel back in the darkness, it’s that. And that heresy came out of Protestantism, not out of the Roman Catholic Church, yet we are being destroyed in the worldwide sense by the residual unbelief of the nineteenth-century liberal destruction of the gospel.
NICHOLS: When I hear these kinds of questions, “Was the Reformation a mistake? Is the Reformation over?” they tend to be framed from those in Anglo-American contexts. It’s very interesting that if you go into Latin-American contexts, like Brazil, they’re not asking the question, “Is the Reformation over?” There is a very clear distinction between what Roman Catholicism is teaching and Protestantism.
We are partners with a wonderful ministry in Brazil called Editora Fiel. When the founder of that ministry went to Brazil and began the ministry, the local Catholic church hung a banner outside of their church praying to Our Lady of Fátima (meaning Mary), “Deliver us from the heresies of these Protestants.”
Sometimes in our settings, I think because of generations of liberalism, we become theologically numb. When we put ourselves out of our settings, we see how much of a distinct, clear, and true difference there is between Protestantism, which is upholding the gospel, and Catholicism, which really is obscuring the gospel.
This is a transcript of R.C. Sproul’s and Stephen Nichols’s answers from our Reformation 500 Celebration and has been lightly edited for readability. To ask Ligonier a biblical or theological question, just visit Ask.Ligonier.org or message us on Facebook or Twitter.